Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Now in Season

Hi Friends,
It’s mid-May and I’m looking forward to a new season of preserving and pickling. I have new challenges and new goals.
The biggest challenge is to locate top quality fresh produce in Jersey City and the surrounding area including New York and Pennsylvania. The second is to maximize canning in my (not too big) apartment kitchen. The third is to be cost-conscious. It’s not as expensive a hobby as golf, but there is a large $ input for a little jar of output.
My first goal is to win a ribbon for my jarred products in a county fair this summer. My second goal is to make jams as favors for a bridal shower, baby shower or birthday party. That leads into my third goal, to create a cute label for my jars. And last but not least: Try new things: like freezer pickles or preserved lemons.
I promise to continue my education in preserving by reading all the information I can on the topic, and attending classes or workshops if available. Maybe one day, I can teach how to put up food.

In preparation for this second “Summer of Jam and Pickles”,  I did a few things: bought new equipment, organized my books, made a list of the farmers markets in Jersey City, and took an inventory of the jams I had on hand at the present time.
I had packed up my canning jars and lids, the pickle crock and the large earthenware bowls, the kettle, strainers, tongs etc and put them in storage. I didn’t think I’d have room here. When I had made the marmalade last winter, I realized I needed this equipment here in the apartment. So I bought a box of canning utensils, and a steam canner. This is not a pressure canner, but an alternative to the boiling water bath process. In my small kitchen, it takes up less space, uses less water, and gives me an extra pot to use as a sterilizer, and as intended to heat the jars and the contents and make a seal. For those of you who love to shop on-line or who don’t have a friendly Ace hardware store in the neighborhood, try amazon.com for canning supplies.

This is my collection of books on making jams, etc, and pickles and the like. It comprises the following, and hopefully, I can add new ones to it. Recommendations are always welcome.
The Blue Book, Guide to Home Canning and Freezing, by the Ball Company.
The Heinz Guide to Successful Pickling, by H. J. Heinz Co. (1976)
Blue Ribbon Preserves, by Linda J. Amendt,
The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving, by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard
Canning for a New Generation, by Liana Krissoff
The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich
Pickles and Relishes by Andrea Chesman
Canning – 120 ways to savor the season year round, a special interest publication by Better Homes and Gardens.
And the last really oldie but goodie:
Complete Guide to Home Canning, Preserving, and Freezing by the U.S. Dept of Agriculture (1973)

Jersey City has a Farmer’s Market open somewhere in the city, seven days a week. Can I get to all of them this summer? Downtown F.M. – Mondays and Thursdays
Harvest Square F.M. – Tuesdays
Newport Center F.M. – Tuesdays
Journal Square F.M. – Wednesdays and Fridays
Hamilton Park F.M. – Wednesdays
Van Vorst Park F.M. – Saturdays
Riverview F.M. – Sundays
Hoboken Downtown  F.M. – Tuesdays
Hoboken Uptown F.M. – Thursdays
And I hope to head out to some pick-your-own farms, too. I’m reminded to be “green” and bring my own shopping tote to the markets. My daughter is crocheting a string bag, and setting a good example with her C.S.A. share. The above list is for me to refer to so that I visit and describe every one, hopefully bringing back some unique fresh produce to turn into a pickle or jam.

The inventory from 2011 (includes marmalade from Jan/Feb 2012). Pushing aside the hangers in the closet, I’ve discovered: Jam: red plum three 4oz, spiced blueberry, strawberry-marsala, lemon-thyme four 4oz, strawberry- rhubarb six 4oz, pumpkin, carrot, blackberry,
Preserve/Marmalade: cherry preserve, Earl Grey peach seven 4oz, citrus marmalade, meyer lemon marmalade, pineapple marmalade, four 4oz, cranberry marmalade, tangerine grapefruit marmalade, sliced peach preserve,
Jelly:  apple-mint six 4oz, grape, peach-jalapeno two 6z and three 4oz,
Pickles: in pints: 4 dills, 3 bread and butters, 2 sweet icicles
Let me know if you are interested in taking some.

There are a couple of county fairs within an hour's drive for me. The Middlesex and the Warren county fairs are in early August and the registration forms have to be sent in by mid-July. Lots of work to do in June and July!!!  Each has posted the categories of jarred food for competition, the application forms and the rules. Just imagine: Joan’s award-winning jams - tomato marmalade - pickled vegetables. I'll let you in on the process and the fun. Hope we are celebrating a ribbon later this summer.

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